Leading a scrum team

What I enjoy about my work is that it is so varied. I’ve been working at my current company for nearly three years now and in that time I have grown as a leader, manager and tester. I have enjoyed getting out of my comfort zone in a supported environment and the feeling of being trusted to tackle challenges in a way that best suits.

About a month ago I started to dig into learning the product better and reviewing product coverage. I was thoroughly enjoying it, however, due to priorities I was asked to support a scrum team and act as an interim dev lead. This role supports, guides and leads a scrum team. You could see this role a bit like a scrum master.

In reflection of the last few weeks it has made me quietly celebrate the skills that have been put to the test — leadership, facilitation, listening, mentoring/coaching and uplifting others. I *can* go into situations that are unfamiliar and add a lot of value.

What have I learnt?

  1. Listen Carefully — You need to be *present* and listen intently to what people are saying. It is important as a leader to do this, so you can understand what is going on and how you can help. I attended all of the scrum ceremonies — stand ups, refinement, planning and retrospectives. To improve your listening skills I would suggest a few things. a) Write notes if it helps you b) Repeat back in summarised words what has been said — For example, Use “For my understanding, is this what you said”. c) Be patient and let the conversation go along.
  2. Facilitation skills — Acting as a facilitator is not easy work. You have to guide a group along to meet the goals of the session. Quite often the conversation can go off track, which can initially feel tough to deal with if you’re new to facilitating. One way you can guide a group back to the topic is to simply ask, do we need to continue this conversation or shall we move on? Most of the time, the answer is to move on. Otherwise a team member explains why the current conversation is important and then you can guide them onto the conclusion of the conversation. A second thing, which I am very passionate about, is facilitating the session so that everyone’s voice is heard. There are a whole variety of techniques you can do this. I’ll write another blog post about this!
  3. Nurture ideas — If you hear any ideas from the team, rather than letting the ideas fade into the background. Get the team or team member to take that idea one step forward. Whether that’s raising the idea to someone, a design thinking session or working with others to brainstorm solutions to a problem.
  4. Communication skills — When building products you often have to discuss with a wide range of functions, such as product, UX or engineering. Communication skills are important to the team and project’s success. My suggestion for communication skills, which may sound basic, is to simply talk to other people. So many times I have seen communication break down because people stop talking to each other. They close up and the open transparent communication is lost.
  5. Action logs —Action logs can be a good way of tracking risks, issues or ideas. We can make sure we are acting on what we discuss and it is not forgotten about.
  6. Positive energy — As a leader, positive energy always! Make them realise how amazing they are and give them the recognition they deserve.



Software tester writing to process her thoughts and learnings.

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